Our days can be so stressful, particularly if you are working in a busy environment. Sometimes when I just think of all I want to get done, I start to feel overwhelmed. I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach or feel pressure in my chest. My breathing speeds up and gets shallow, and my eyes are peeled wide open like they must take in everything to make sure I don’t forget something. Mindfulness is an amazing tool to get us back to center so we can handle everything more efficiently and effectively. Our minds are wired to amp things up to help us, but it can end up slowing us down. When we pause to ground and center, we can better focus and get the things done that we want to accomplish.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is sometimes described as a form of meditation in which we remain aware and present in the moment. Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, mindfulness encourages us to notice our current surroundings. This is very calming for the nervous system. It helps send a signal to the brain that we are safe. When we are aware of our surroundings, the alarm bells in the brain can begin to ease. When we make this shift, we can actually hear what the body is telling us. When you’re in the now, you have more choices. You can more effectively see what you can modify, pull back on, push forward with, and find creative solutions to problems as they arise.
How to bring mindfulness to your day
Here are some things I like to do to guide myself back to the present moment, even when the present moment is full of chaos:
When we feel stressed, we tense up, lock everything into place, and tend to hold our breath. Mindfulness can be as simple as pausing and noticing the breath. Instead of focusing on all the craziness around me, I take a minute or two to be still and follow the breath. Just breathe in slowly, feeling the air pass through your nose, your throat, into your lungs. Then breathe out slowly and smoothly, feeling the breath leave your body. Just this simple moment can help clear the mind and help me feel more steady.
2. Take a walk
You don’t have to necessarily take a hike (although you could, and it would likely be magnificent), but a short walk can be an amazing de-stressor. Artificial indoor lighting alone can be stressful for the nervous system. Natural light has been shown to have many benefits for your body. Bringing some natural light to your day can improve your mood, lead to higher productivity during the day, and help you sleep at night. If you can’t get outside, take a moment to walk around, feel the ground beneath your feet, and find a window. Even looking outdoors can help find some mindful, grounding, peace of mind.
3. Take a moment to feel the sensations in the body. Anytime I can, I start a quick body scan. Are my shoulders up in my ears? Is my jaw clinched? Are there other places that are tight that I can relax? I like to do this whenever I can. There are lots of moments that wouldn’t seem like the time to do this, but they end up perfect for it: while walking in or out of a building, while I’m doing dishes, eating a meal, chatting with a client.
4. Feel connected. Other people around you are likely feeling stressed out as well. Share a smile with someone, a kind word, or a nice gesture to help make life feel more pleasant. It will help you feel that connection. Notice that we’re all in this together.
Finding a few moments to bring myself back to present can help the day feel less overwhelming. It can help me think more clearly, focus on what’s most important to me, and generally feel better. How do you like to bring mindfulness into your busy day?